Black, Hispanic women have less say in breast cancer care


2015-03-22 16:10

Black and Hispanic women with breast cancer are less likely than white women to be actively involved in their care, according to a new survey.

The questionnaire-based study surveyed 222 white, 142 black and 136 Hispanic women. The Hispanic women were categorized by whether they mainly spoke English (89) or Spanish (47).

The study found that black and Hispanic women were more likely than white women to select the statement, "I was referred to the surgeon by another doctor." They were also less likely than white women to say they followed reputation for their choice of hospital or surgeon.

Seventy-nine to 87 percent of black and Spanish-speaking Hispanic women selected their surgeon based on a physician’s referral, versus 76 percent of white women. Only 18 and 22 percent of black and Hispanic women chose their surgeon based on reputation, versus 32 percent of white women.

The study also found that minority patients were more likely than white patients to receive medical care in lower-quality hospitals. They were also more likely than white patients to receive care from doctors caring for higher proportions of minority patients and doctors who are less well trained than those treating white patients.

"Most women relied on referrals from their physicians for selecting surgeons, particularly black women and Spanish-speaking Hispanic women," the authors said.

"In addition, minority patients were less likely to report reputation as an important component of their decisions about surgeons and hospitals and were more likely to select a hospital because it was part of their health plan. These findings suggest less-active involvement of minority patients with regard to selecting physicians and hospitals for their care."

The study was published online in the journal JAMA Oncology.

Researchers from Cancer Research UK found that women who received a text message were 20 percent more likely to attend their breast cancer screening appointment than women who did not receive a reminder. Seventy-two percent of women who were sent a text message attended their appointment, compared to 60 percent of women who did not receive a text.